A homecoming game a little more than 20 years ago at Anaheim High School changed Principal Robert Saldivar’s life.
Saldivar, a then 19-year-old sophomore student and aspiring physical therapist at Cal State Fullerton, visited his alma mater to catch up with friends and enjoy the game.
But when Athletic Director David Torres asked him for a favor to help the Anaheim High School freshman football team that year, Saldivar couldn’t say no to his former coach.
After spending time with the 14- and-15-year-old kids, he said he knew home is where he wanted to be.
“Working with those kids, and seeing how impressionable they were, they were sponges. They looked up to us,” Saldivar said. “That was my aha moment. This is what I wanted to do. At that point, I changed my focus from therapy to teaching.”
A Class of 1996 grad, Saldivar is the first Anaheim High alumnus to become principal in the school’s 119-year history.
The 39-year-old, who started as a teacher at Anaheim High in 2001, will oversee the largest and oldest Anaheim school and its nearly 3,000 students and 120 teachers. Since taking over in June, there have been moments walking down the hall where an old memory stirred, he said. Old friends congratulate him. He’s back where it all began.
The Anaheim Bulletin caught up with the school’s newest principal and asked him what his goals are for the school and its students:
Q. What’s it feel like to lead the same school you attended?
A. When I first got into education, I never thought I would become a principal or an administrator, let alone the principal where I graduated from. Now that I reflect on my career, I’m very grateful and looking forward to this opportunity.
I loved high school. It’s the second best to the college experience. I had so many coaches and teachers that I connected with, who encouraged and helped me with struggles that I had at the time – just because they cared. I was involved in a lot of clubs on campus and sports and having caring teachers was a great experience.
Q. What are your goals for the school and its students and teachers?
A. Short term, we want to continue to build the culture. We want to continue to work with our staff, teachers, students, parents and community members as a team, so they know they are supported and connected. We want to make sure we come in as a team and that they all know we are here for the right…